Tiramisu Transit, LLC-Quality of Life Technology Center - Carnegie Mellon University

Tiramisu Transit, LLC

Find out in real-time when the bus is coming from your phone.

Tiramisu Transit is a crowd-powered transit information system developed by researchers to improve users' transit experiences and transit accessibility. With Tiramisu - literally Italian for "pick me up" - anyone waiting at a bus stop with a smartphone can see which buses or light rail vehicles are due to arrive next and, thanks to the signals from riders already aboard, get an idea of how long they have to wait.

When a rider first activates the app, Tiramisu displays the nearest stops and a list of buses or light rail vehicles that are scheduled to arrive. The list includes arrival times, based either on historical data for that route or on real-time reports from riders. When the desired vehicle arrives, the user indicates the level of "fullness" and then presses a button, allowing their phone to share an ongoing GPS trace with the Tiramisu server.  Once aboard, the rider can use Tiramisu to find out which stop is next and to report problems, positive experiences and suggestions.

The information available through Tiramisu is also critical for riders with disabilities. The fullness information lets riders who use wheelchairs know if there is space on the bus. Blind riders can use the app through their phone screenreader.

Core Benefits:

  • Proivdes real-time bus arrival and fullness information
  • Improves transit rider's personal experience & efficiency
  • Automates reporting of transit issues
  • Facilitates community building among transit riders

Targeted User Populations:

  • People with disabilities
  • Public transit riders
  • Urban transportation administrators

"While better funded transit systems can afford to make GPS-based information available to riders in real-time, the transit systems in some communities like Allegheny County face tremendous budget pressure. Under those circumstances, a free, crowdsourced system such as Tiramisu offers an important alternative and demonstrates how citizens can take an active role in producing the public services and information they desire."

-- Aaron Steinfeld, Carnegie Mellon University

About the Research:

User-submitted data helps improve the application and information system while demonstrating the positive impact of technology on public transit.  Additional work is being explored to automate bus data reporting back to the crowd via social media networks.

Learn More:

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Project Sponsors:

This research and development are activities of the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Accessible Public Transportation (RERC-APT). The RERC-APT is funded by grant number H133E080019 from the United States Department of Education through the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research.

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Additional Support was provided by Traffic21 at Carnegie Mellon University, a program developed with the support of the Hillman Foundation; IBM; Google; the National Science Foundation's Quality of Life Technology Engineering Research Center; and, the SINAIS project, a joint research project between Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Madeira.

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Fast Facts

  • Free App download
  • For Android and iPhone
  • Servicing Pittsburgh, PA
  • 14,000+ trips recorded
  • Example of universal design

tiramisu app view of crowdsourced route recording elements
App interface for rider route tracking

tiramisu app view of route problem reporting
App interface for rider issue reporting


Aaron Steinfeld,
Founder & Lead Researcher - Tiramisu Transit
(p:) 412-268-6346

Kristen Sabol,
QoLT Communications and Media
(p): 412-303-7396